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What do you think of upper-class people spouting anti-work sentiments?

–1 vote
People with class privilege obviously don't have to work as hard within the capitalist framework as those without it. Is this another case of the privileged disempowering the more oppressed?
Is this similar to the idea men/whites/etc should let women/poc/etc speak for their own cause?
asked May 3, 2014 by anonymous

1 Answer

+1 vote
So it probably depends on what they are spouting, how, and what else they are doing, and more generally if they come of as entitled twits.

Here is my short answer:

Given the bare-bones details of a generalized question like this it is hard to make any blanket statements. But my gut instinct is to say that condemning all people with class privilege who are anti-work is like weeding your garden with a flame thrower - it certainly kills any nasty weeds, but also any good shit, and the tap roots of a lot of the nastiest weeds run deep so they tend to regenerate quicker than any collateral damage.

Here is some longer, more personal reflections:

In the early '00s I had the privilege(sic) of getting to meet and put up (with?) A lot of folks who were travelling and would pass through town. While I didn't always have the opportunity to get to know everything about their stories, many were living the cliches about Crimethinc. of the Evasion/Days of War, Nights of Love era - travelers w/ middle/upper-middle class backgrounds, trust funds, etc. who were avoiding work, shoplifting and even sometimes being involved in more um, /interesting/ activities.

Alternately, I was and am working full time and had been since I was in High School (the longest I've been unemployed/on vacation in the past 21 years has been about six weeks), but was raised comfortably middle class and certainly know how to pass in middle class society, if I am not, in fact still somewhat more precariously there. I feel pretty strongly that work is fucking awful and should be abolished, that the smallest amount that we can do is best, that there is no pride to be had in ones wage-slavery, even as I am stuck in the cycle of wage slavery. Granted, I don't go around telling people they should quit their jobs and do anarchy full-time, but if I did, given my history of working for my entire adult life, is it wrong for me to say that work as an institution ought to be destroyed? Does it change if the person I am talking to is from a working class background? Does that change if the working class person has a college degree (I don't)?

People speak of class like it is an immutable fact. It isn't. For every asshat who lives like they're poor but has all the money they need and has never worked, there is also a dickbag who grew up poor and can't let go of the idea that that somehow makes them a more authentic or better anti-capitalist than people who didn't. For every working class person who hates their life of work, there is some middle class person who read some old books and thinks that "Anarchism is about building a working class mass movement."

Comparing this to race or gender stuff is tempting, but I think it is insufficient. All of these categories are just so nuanced that general questions or comparisons (never mind assumptions) are bound to fall short.

*edited for a couple spelling/grammar things and to clarify that I am, in fact, a product of the middle class.
answered May 3, 2014 by ingrate (19,820 points)
edited Apr 9, 2015 by ingrate
I'm not totally happy with this answer, I might change it a bit, or would welcome critical questions to it!
my only full thought is that your response accepts the question a bit more than i would. this question questions whether people can be revolutionary if they're not born right.
that premise is maoist, purist, simplistic, irritating.
it's nice to answer these questions in good faith, as you have, but some critique of the way the question is framed is appropriate, i think.
so, there it is.
dot - I totally agree, and my answer started out much more hostile, but since the second part asked about white folks or men speaking for poc or women as opposed to merely suggesting that they cede leadership/authority/etc to those groups that I would indulge.
just a note: pointing out framing doesn't have to be hostile!
(although it can be more fun that way... :) )
"...condemning all people with class privilege who are anti-work is like weeding your garden with a flame thrower - it certainly kills and nasty weeds, but also any good shit..." that sounds a lot like a Tale of Two Cities. Not really relevant, I just felt like adding that.